Rob Shears graduated from CGAA in the summer of 2007; as undergraduates become graduates and 1st and 2nd years look to the future, I invited Rob to share his post-grad experience - essential reading!
"I joined Double Negative in the summer of 2007, I went from my major project hand in on a Friday to a job on the Monday. I didn't see the point in sitting around! I was 26 at the time and had already travelled around the world for a couple of years and had my fare share of jobs in the design industry, therefore I thought it would be best to kick start my new career ASAP. Even though I was 26 at the time I thought it would be best to start at the bottom in a large and up and coming company and to work my way to the top. I've pretty much stuck to my plan. The biggest change of all is that I followed my heart and went into a production role. I haven't picked up Maya/After Effects since. This was a big decision to make at the time as I knew it would determine the rest of my career. Looking back now I made the right decision. In short these are the steps that I have gone through:
• Runner - emptying bins etc.
• Receptionist - being able to communicate in the work place is extremely valuable.
• Visual Effects Editor - creating show reels (Final Cut) and running client screening session with the work that had been produced.
• Production Coordinator - Was part of the production team on a film. A coordinator is the backbone of the production team - you should know everything that's going on!
• Line Producer - this is my current position. I now have the responsibility of getting the job pushed through.
However, I do miss not using the software and running through the creative process. Me being me, I have found that a production role can be a little bit creative in terms of scripting and problem solving. Working as line producer is quite demanding, I have to schedule all the work with as little people as possible, but make sure we have enough people to do the job! It also involves the day to day running of the show - which is more than you could ever believe. I've been working on the same job for nearly a year and a half, in this time there's been approximately 200 people on and off the show! Having the knowledge of 2D and 3D work has helped me through my production career; you need to understand the visual effects process if you're ever going to schedule/run a show. My next step would be working as a Producer, this is a few years away yet. One good thing about production is that you get to know LOADS of people with different expertise/skills/personalities. I never realised that some people are employed for water sims only! On that note...
My advice for any one graduating would be to find a job in a small company where it's hands on (this may not be easy), this way you get to broaden your skills before specialising in a specific area (animation, lighting, FX etc.). If you would like to work in the VFX film industry at a company like Double Negative (Dneg), MPC, Framestore or Cinesite it would probably be best to learn the art of matchmoving or rotoscoping (you could do this on the job as a runner? or if you have a good showreel they will employ you knowing that you will pickup the role):
Matchmoving: if you would like to pursue a career in 3D (Maya, Houdini etc.).
Rotoscoping: if you would like to pursue a career in 2D (Shake, Nuke etc.)
The above are level entry positions. Most people work as one of the above for at least a year or two before being promoted. It really depends on how good you are!
TIP: If you enjoy FX work (water, fire, smoke etc.) teach yourself Houdini and focus all your attention on it. The industry is crying out for great FX artists.
Before being sucked up into a large post production company think carefully about what you want to do. There's a lot of post production houses, some of which do some really cool and creative work - don't be shy in applying or calling them up! Call to ask for the HR managers name, put the phone down once you've been given it, travel to the company, ask for the HR manager; saying you have an appointment, he/she will be to busy to remember if they had booked you in or not, it's to late your there anyway - BINGO, you've got your foot in the door! Bit cheeky, no harm in trying. Make sure you have a copy of your showreel and CV.
If you have any questions or would like me to forward your showreel on pop me an email with the URL - firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's my IMDB page:
Apologies for the grammar/punctuation. Working long hours takes it toll on you. Yes, you will be working long hours.